Does it seem like you just can't lose body fat or reach your weight-loss goals no matter how hard you try? It may be the food you're eating. You may have a fat-protein efficient body type and be best suited for a high-protein low-carb diet.
We’re not talking about the popular keto diet. We’re talking about a diet that, like the ketogenic diet, has been around since the 1930s, but operates on very different and more individualized principles. It’s called the metabolic typing diet, and it divides individuals into three body types, of which the fat-protein efficient body is one.
Let’s go back in time to the origins of the metabolic typing diet to see if eating according to your body type might make all the difference in your health and weight-loss goals. And if you’re already convinced you want to eat for your fat-protein efficient body, then don’t leave without grabbing our handy shopping list below!
What Is the Metabolic Typing Diet
Dietary trends have a way of coming back around, and the metabolic typing diet is no different.
The system was originally designed in the 1930s by dentist Weston Price who traveled across the globe and gathered intel on how particular eating habits might be related to chronic degenerative diseases. He concluded that there wasn’t one overarching diet that was best, but that everyone’s dietary needs were different according to their body composition, genetics, location, environment, and culture.
The idea that everyone’s digestive systems behave differently, metabolizing certain macronutrients more efficiently than others, was expanded upon by researchers George Watson, Roger Williams, and Willam Kelly. They linked metabolism to two main determinants:
- Autonomic nervous system dominance: There are two main branches of the autonomic nervous system: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system operates the fight-or-flight response and burns energy. The parasympathetic nervous system guides our energy-conserving processes such as rest and digestion. According to the metabolic typing diet, people are dominant in one branch or the other.
- Rate of cellular oxidation: Cells turn food into energy at different rates. Metabolic typing theory holds that some people are fast oxidizers and do better eating richer proteins and fats that take longer to digest, while others are slow oxidizers who do better eating quicker burning carbohydrates.
Based on these two factors, the metabolic typing diet categorizes individuals according to three body types: fat-protein efficient, carbohydrate efficient, and mixed-macronutrient efficient.
Let’s take a look at the differentiating factors of each so you have a better idea of your metabolic type.
The Fat-Protein Efficient Body Type
The fat-protein efficient body is able to metabolize energy from proteins and fats easier than it can from carbs. For this reason, fat-protein efficient bodies are considered fast oxidizers and parasympathetic dominant.
Wondering if you might be in this category? See how many of these fat-protein efficient body characteristics you have.
- You love fat-laden and salty snacks
- You are regularly hungry and snack throughout the day
- Low-calorie diets rarely go well
- You feel frequently fatigued or on edge
- You have bouts of anxiety and nervousness
- Your energy is tenuous with an overall feeling of lethargy underneath
If this sounds like you, then you may do well following a macronutrient breakdown of:
- 45-50% protein
- 30-35% carbohydrates
- 20% oils or natural fats
Fat-Protein Efficient Body Meal Plan
Fat-protein efficient body types do best eating high-fat and high-purine proteins and foods and low-starch carbs, which rules sweet potatoes out!
Your fat-protein efficient shopping list includes:
- Organ meats (beef liver, chicken liver, pâté)
- Whole milk
- Full-fat cheese
- Whole grains
You can also satisfy your higher protein needs by taking an essential amino acid supplement, which contributes to protein intake without contributing to excess calories that can cause weight gain.
The Carbohydrate Efficient Body Type
If after getting the scoop on the fat-protein efficient body you’re thinking that’s definitely not you, then check out these characteristics of a carb-efficient body type that is a slow oxidizer and sympathetic dominant.
- You love sweets
- You have a smaller appetite
- Your weight tends to fluctuate
- You’re a type A personality
- You need your caffeine
The metabolic typing diet recommends that carb efficient bodies follow a macronutrient breakdown of:
- 60% carbs
- 25% protein
- 15% fat
Carbohydrate Efficient Body Meal Plan
The carbohydrate efficient body type does better on an eating plan that incorporates low-fat, low-purine proteins and both starchy and non-starchy carbs as long as they aren’t refined.
The metabolic type dieting plan recommends limiting dairy, oil, and legume intake for carbohydrate efficient body types. The carb efficient shopping list includes foods like:
- Cornish game hen
- Chicken breast
- Turkey breast
- Low-fat dairy products
- A plethora of veggies, fruits, and whole grains
The Mixed-Macronutrient Efficient Body Type
Mixed body types are able to efficiently digest all the macros equally and are categorized as neither fast nor slow oxidizers or sympathetic or parasympathetic dominant.
Do any of these mixed-macro body type traits sound familiar?
- You love both sweet and salty foods
- Your appetite is average
- You are able to maintain your weight
- Your energy levels are stable
- You sometimes feel anxious, nervous, or fatigued
The mixed-macro meal plan is the best of both worlds, as it allows for a balance of high-fat, high-purine proteins and foods, and low-fat, low-purine proteins and foods, with an equal percentage of calories from all macronutrients.
Still don’t know what category you fit into?
In 2002, researcher William Wolcott wrote The Metabolic Typing Diet, which includes a test to help you identify your body type. You can also work with a trained health practitioner who can lead you through a more comprehensive examination, including urine and blood tests.
What’s Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph Got to Do with It?
You’ve probably heard of the three main body types (or somatotypes) that are assigned according to physical characteristics. These are not associated with the metabolic typing diet, but can be helpful in determining your body type category.
This body type has a larger frame and higher body fat percentage because it tends to store fat more easily. Endomorphs can also build strength and muscle easier, although their metabolisms are slower so they fatigue sooner and burn fewer calories. If following a metabolic typing diet, the fat-protein efficient body type would be most appropriate.
This body type has the smallest frame, with a low body fat percentage, small bones and joints, and smaller muscles. The endurance athlete or marathoner provides an appropriate visual. Ectomorphs also have faster metabolisms and can burn calories quicker. If you were going to fit then into the metabolic typing diet, then a carbohydrate efficient body is likely the best option.
Here’s where the mixed category of the metabolic typing diet comes in. Mesomorphs have a medium frame, athletic with the ability to build muscle and strength easily and quickly. They can be prone to fat storage, particularly in the lower body, and their metabolisms are also in the middle of the fast-burning ectomorph and slower-burning endomorph.
Pros and Cons of the Metabolic Typing Diet
As with any diet plan there are reasons for and reasons against. Let’s start with the reasons why you might try the metabolic typing diet.
No matter the body type, the metabolic typing diet lures you away from refined carbs stripped of nutrients, like white rice, white bread, white pasta, cookies, and crackers that don’t have the fiber needed to keep you feeling satiated and support your digestive system. Not to mention, refined carbs spike blood sugar levels.
This type of diet advocates instead for fiber-full, whole grain carbs such as oatmeal, bulgar, and quinoa.
The metabolic typing diet also promotes limiting or restricting intake of alcohol, caffeine, and sugar, which can optimize any person’s well-being regardless of metabolic body type.
Because of its individualized approach, the metabolic typing diet may further your health goals and help you lose weight more effectively than other diets you may have tried in the past. But that’s a big MAY.
While anecdotal evidence supports the metabolic typing diet, there is no scientific evidence to back it up.
There are also safety concerns. The metabolic typing diet stresses specific macronutrient ratios according to body type, but it’s not a balanced diet, which leads to concerns of macronutrient deficiencies. For reference, a balanced diet consists of 45-55% of calories from carbs, 25-30% from fats, and 20-25% from protein.
The metabolic typing diet also doesn’t take into account chronic disease. For instance, a fat-protein efficient body meal plan can be harmful to someone with heart disease or kidney disease, while a carb-efficient meal plan may not be suitable for someone with diabetes.
No matter what type of body you have or diet you follow, eating real whole foods is key to maximizing your health and losing or maintaining your weight. Keep the focus on that and you’re likely to have the most success on whatever diet plan you choose.